Standardized food governance? Reflections on the potential and limitations of chemical-free shrimp
Multilayered conformity-assessment systems (MCASs) are becoming an increasingly prominent governance mechanism in food and agriculture. MCASs maintain their legitimacy through the use of scientific norms and practices, as well as multiple tiers of oversight. The purported outcome is standardized conformity-assessment practices, and thus, standardized food and production practices regardless of location or producer. This article examines the ability of MCASs to enforce one form of zero tolerance standards: organics (i.e., zero-synthetic chemicals). The focus is on the governance of organic standards in the rural Indonesia, where the idea of zero tolerance is historically foreign. Drawing on a case study of an organic shrimp project in Indonesia, the ways that the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the global South affect the operations of a MCAS and the capacity of the MCAS to adapt to such conditions are examined. My findings raise questions as to the capability of MCASs to ensure standardized food governance globally.
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